Skip to main content

Full text of "Verdict On India"

See other formats


134                                    VEUDICT OX INDIA

Dictionary of National Biography it is to say the least of it, some-
what sketchy.1

Now if you consider this question m a wider sense—the
anonymity of Indian music, its fluidity and general vagueness—
you will realize that it has more than a merely artistic significance ;
it is of real importance to the student of the Indian mentality, and
of the political situation as it is affected by this mentality. For
instance, owing to the lack of a common musical script, Indian
music, like the Indian language, has remained entirely local. A
Bengali song provokes ridicule in, Madras; a Madrasi song is
incomprehensible in Cochin; and both would be meaningless on
the North-West Frontier. If the soldiers of India ever want to
march in step they will have to inarch in silence ; if they try to
sing, their feet will be caught in a tangle of warring rhythms.

But these are matters for the student of national psychology ;
it is the purely musical argument which most interests me; and
so the reader will perhaps pardon a few more paragraphs, of theory,
before we revert to more mundane affairs.

VII
To sum up, our contention is that Indian music cannot be
regarded as a serious art because :
(a)  Indian music is almost entirely a matter of improvisation,
(6)   Art is not, never has been, and never can be, a matter of
improvisation*
* The foregoing contentions will certainly be contested by apologists for Indian
music.   Fortunately there are a number of outspoken Indian critics who can be
qnoted in support of them, for instance Professor Prasad Mukerji of Lucknow
University.    In his latest book Modern Indian Culture he boldly states :
* Indian music makes no distinction between composition and execution.   Of
composers in the European sense, i.e. as a class of artists whose function is not exe-
cution, we hose had none.''
He makes a very illuminating disclosure, in this book, regarding the average
cultured Indian's attitude to music as an art. It was recently proposed to incorporate
a college of music in Lucknow University. There was an immediate outcry against
this suggestion, for three reasons, 'It was claimed (1) that it would drawdown fche
academic level, (2) it was not worthy of study because it was not a science, (3> it
would lower the social prestige of teachers and students alike, because music is associate*
in Luefoww with bad women /'